Wednesday, December 17, 2008

Tuesday, December 09, 2008

No-BloPoMo and other news

So this year instead of trying to post every day in November I thought it'd be fun not to post at all. har har har. I actually did want to do NaBloPoMo this year but knew that I'd be setting myself up for stress and frustration. I'm glad I just said no to myself.

The good news is that things are going really well and I've been busy. We had a wonderful Thanksgiving and I am having fun making things for the Dec holidays. Our laptop died and our desktop is decrepit. We bought an early Chanukah gift- a sweet new iMac and I am loving it.

One more tidbit: an article I wrote about my first time celebrating Christmas was published today! I think I mentioned working on it here a few months ago.

I miss writing here, and I have a lot of half-written posts in my head, but I am not sure I'll get to write them before the start of 2009.

Wednesday, October 29, 2008

So let me get this straight

Making sure that people have food, shelter, and health insurance is considered socialism, but bailing out banks, insurance companies, and car manufacturers is responsible capitalism?

Welfare and medicaid are bad because they throw money at lazy good-for-nothings who don't work, but subsidies to corporate farms to grow corn for livestock on corporate farms or to help American sugar farmers compete with other sugar farmers is good?

It is bad for an intellectual to run for president, despite the ill effects of the last eight years of an anti-intellectual in the Oval Office?

Did you realize that it is ok to criticize a Democratic president for operating under a deficit (Carter), but perfectly ok for a Republican to run up the largest deficit ever (Bush II)?

um, okay.

A lovely post here:

Friday, October 24, 2008


Maya: Mama, wait, stop. I just want to tell you something.
Maya: I just, I just really like being with people. I like people, I like friends, I like doing things with people.
Me, in my head: omg you poor child, you were so born to the wrong mom.
Me, outloud: Maya, that is so great that you know that about yourself. I know you like to be with people, and I will try to make sure you can have play dates and get togethers. I like to be with people too, but I also need a lot of alone or quiet time.


Maya: What do you call Grandpa Ken
Me: um, Ken?
Maya: yeah, what do you call him? You know, like I call him Grandpa Ken, but he's married to your mom so what is he? What is he for you?
Me: ohhh, ok. Well, I was kind of big when he married Grandma Dana. I never lived in his house, and he was never really my step-dad (she's familiar with the concept because some of her friends have step-dads). I do love Grandpa Ken a lot, he's so special in our family, but I don't have a special name for him. I just call him Ken.


Erik: Why are you so worked up about everything! (sort of yelling)
Me: That's like me asking you why do you have to be so bald! I'm high strung! You're bald! Deal with it.
Both: hysterical laughter
Me: Maya, you may have some money for the book fair, but you may not buy a character book.
Maya: like, no Bratz, Strawberry Shortcake, no princesses?
Me: Right.
Maya: (starting to feel an injustice has been done to her) But Mama! If I can't buy a book about a character what would it be about? Please? It has to have a character or else it is not a book!
Me: nononono- yes, you are right, books are about characters, but I am talking about a specific type of book, the type that has some type of toy character on the cover. Do you know what I mean?
Maya: ok. Yes. I get it.
Me: Whew.

Thursday, October 23, 2008

A way in which I am not very different from my 17 year old self

One day when I was 17 my parents came home from work and asked us to turn General Hospital off. My father proceeded to tell us that he was in love with someone else and that my parents would be divorcing. I have no memories of the words he said after I confirmed that he was not in fact joking. In the days and weeks that followed I had many aggressive thoughts about E (the other woman). I took out my hostility while chopping vegetables, or while thinking about chopping vegetables. I wished she would die. When my dad and E got an apartment together, I dreaded speaking to her. If she picked up the phone, I would very formally ask "May I speak to Arthur, please?" I refused his offers of bringing her to dinner with us, or an offer of a vacation which included her. Don't worry, I had plenty of hostility for my dad--he was just as culpable as she was.

Eventually I came around. I was tired of being so angry all of the time. I spoke to E. I rode in the same vehicle as her. I didn't get sick when she came to my graduation party, though I did have a glass of wine before she arrived with my dad. And when she died of breast cancer a year or two after they married, I felt terrible.

So, I thought I was past those vindictive feelings. Apparently not! A few years ago my dad went out with a woman I despised. She was awful. She manipulated him terribly. They'd break up and then get back together. He knew I didn't like her so he'd try to keep it secret--impossible since I work for him. They are finally done for good, but maintain a business relationship.

I had to write a check for her the other day. I found myself mentally putting hoaxes on it, and I very nearly spit in the envelope when I was getting it ready to mail. When I stopped myself I cracked up, and immediately recognized the 17 year old me.

Friday, October 10, 2008


I'm here, I'm here. I really am.

What I've been up to:
  • on a Harry Potter marathon with Sam. He read book one ages ago but not the others. I announced I was going to read them all, and he took off along with me. We're having so much fun, though I do need to keep reminding him not to tell me any details! He's one book ahead of me. I've threatened to duct tape his mouth closed, with a slit for liquid nutrition.
  • observing Rosh Hashanah and Yom Kippur. This has probably been my least angst-filled High Holy Days since I've had kids. Yay me!
  • writing an article for publication on a web-zine. For pay! More on that when it is published.
  • trying to renew my enthusiasm for my photo project. I have missed more days than I'd have liked, and find myself getting a little bored. But I've been pushing through this week and have had fun taking pictures. Now I just need to catch up on posting a month's worth of photos. Yikes!
  • planning holiday gift crafting, cooking new recipes, and getting ready for my sister and her family to visit in a few weeks. Can't wait to meet my new nephew, who is a butterball!

Monday, September 22, 2008

Cool Beans

I've tried cooking with dry beans a bunch of times. They usually come out barely edible- sort of mealy feeling and not fully cooked, despite hours of soaking and cooking.

Earlier this year I saw this post on Cathy's blog I made some black beans and used them for soup shortly afterwards. And omg! It works- perfect beans.

I made some more beans this weekend, some lovely garbanzos. Delicious. I used them in a stew from Madhur Jaffrey's World Vegetarian.

This morning I picked up a bag of great northern beans at the store, love those and can't wait to make something with them. I was talking about cooking with my friend Maria yesterday. She asked why was I making beans from scratch, since good canned beans are so readily available. I wasn't really sure, except that I love a good cooking challenge, and it drove me bonkers that my previous efforts were inedible!

In other food news, Sam has been on a new food streak. Mind you, he hasn't really loved most of what he has tried, but hey, he's trying! He tried spinach and got a bite or two down by holding his nose. We just made it plain, but I bet he would like it made another way. We'll try again. He tried a grape. He didn't care for the skin; his sister helpfully asked if we could peel them for him. Um, no thanks. He tried a radish in school. He ate some sweet potato, and did enjoy that. Hooray! A week ago I bought an artichoke, at his request. I made it last night, and he ate a few leaves dipped in honey mustard dressing. He says he'd eat it again if we make it.

I think both of my kids eat pretty well, but Sam is definitely persnickety. But, hey, so was I.

Sunday, September 21, 2008

In Defense of Junie B. Jones

Dear Junie B. Jones

I know there are parents who don't like you, Junie B. Parents who don't care for your grammar, your spelling, or your antics.

I am not one of those parents. Junie, Thank you for bringing me laughter. I'm talking about I can't read, I can't breathe laughter. I'm talking my daughter sternly telling me "stop laughing and READ the book!" laughter. I laugh harder when I remember by son telling me the same thing four years ago. As my husband sometimes points out, I'm kind of high strung, not to mention overly serious-- and this type of let it all hang out, uncontrolled laughter doesn't come frequently. It's such a wonderful, free feeling, and I thank you for allowing me to experience it with my kids.

Friday, September 05, 2008

She let me have Blow-pops for Breakfast

When I was a little girl, my Aunt Ilene babysat me quite a bit. One of my earliest and dearest memories is when I stayed with her while my mother was in the hospital giving birth to my sister. I remember returning to my aunt's apartment building, and sitting down in the lobby to put on a beautiful, gold, sparkly, plastic pair of high-heels. I can hear the clip-clip-clip as we walk to the elevator, and I remember showing the shoes off to my grandma who was upstairs in the apartment.

My aunt and her family eventually moved out of Brooklyn to Long Island. We spent many a fun-filled weekend there, playing with my cousins and the other neighborhood kids. We loved my aunt, and knew she loved us. So it was only natural, when my father told us that he'd had an affair and that my parents were getting divorced, that I'd want to go be with Aunt Ilene.

Before my parents sat us down that June afternoon, we knew something strange was going on in our house. My mom had lost a lot of weight, and I worried that she was dying. When I found out why she lost the weight, I felt a great responsibility to be strong for her, and to be angry at my father on her behalf. I knew how much my mother loved me (a subject for a post of its own). But I knew I needed comforting, and I didn't feel I could ask that of her.

So my dad took me out to Suffolk county, and I spent a few days there, soaking in the love and hanging out. I'll never forget the first morning. My aunt had gone to the office, and called to check on me. She asked "what'd you have for breakfast?" When I answered "two Blow-pops," she responded "that's good." No- ohmygosh that's no good! You'd better eat something else! Just acceptance. And love.

I told both of these stories at my aunt's 60th birthday party this summer. I ended by saying that everyone needs an Aunt Ilene, who'll let them have Blow-pops for breakfast. The party was a surprise, and she was shocked to see my family and me there. I shared some memories that my sister emailed to me since she wasn't able to come to the party. I made it through my stories without tears, but couldn't read the last line of my sister's email through my tears.

This post inspired by today's post on Supersisters- a new blog by Jen Lemen and two of her equally amazing sisters.

Wednesday, August 27, 2008

Signs that the Apocalypse is Nigh or

at least that the tween and teen years will be scary:

Sam's teacher told the class that there is a foul odor in the room after PE, and could they all please start wearing deodorant. And so today I helped my first baby choose some deodorant. Yikes. Little sister had to have some too, of course.

Yesterday I locked the bedroom door when I needed a break from Maya. First she wailed and banged on the door. Then she was quiet, and I heard sort of scratching on the door. All of the sudden the door opened. She had unlocked the door with a barrette. She is six. Is climbing out windows to hang with friends far behind? This morning we talked a little about respecting personal space. I asked what made her think of trying to open the door. Apparently she saw it on iCarly. sigh.

On a more uplifting note, lately I have seen glimpses of my face in Maya's face. What do you think?

Sam drew this over the summer- Pac Man as Picasso would see him

Friday, August 22, 2008

Always lurking

When my grandmother was a young girl, her mother died suddenly. She was only 39, dead of a heart attack. Her father was an alcoholic, whenever she talks about him the adjective involved is usually 'jerk'. She bounced from foster home to foster home until she was 18, and could live on her own.

At 39 my grandmother had a nervous breakdown. She wouldn't leave the house; neighbors did the shopping and made sure the three children got to school. I know she was treated with medication, but I'm not sure what would have been used at that time (about 1959). My father was 13 years old and has no memory whatsoever of this time. My aunts, both younger than him, cannot believe he doesn't remember anything about this time in their lives. I asked my first therapist about it, and she felt it was totally normal for a boy of that age to have blocked the memory.

I don't know how long it took, but grandma did improve, and went on to live a very active life, despite the anxiety she lived with on a regular basis. She's always been busy, doing for others- baking, crafting, sewing, volunteering, caring for. I've always been in awe of her life of service, especially in light of her childhood.

I spoke to her last week; she often calls the office and knows she might catch my dad or me. She said she hadn't been feeling well lately. I thought she sounded stuffy so I asked if she'd had a cold. No, she said, I've been having terrible anxiety and panic attacks. She asked if I knew about her breakdown. She told me that when she was 39 she thought that she would die, since her mother died at 39. Recently more of her friends are dying, and she also heard from a friend whose daughter died after a long battle with cancer. She's feeling anxious about dying.

She did go see her doctor, and has found some relief from the medicines he prescribed her. I believe she's been on anti-anxiety medications for a very long time, but I don't know what she takes, and I don't know what the doctor gave her recently.

I vowed to myself that I would make sure to call her at least once a week. I spoke to her yesterday. She says she's coming along; she was going to have her hair done and then going to play mah jong, which she'd skipped last week. She still doesn't feel up to doing everything she usually does, but she's resisting the urge to hide out, and forcing herself to get out of the house and do things.

It breaks my heart that she's struggling so. I wish I could run up to NY and wrap my arms around her. She moved from San Diego back to NY, to be closer to family, about two years ago. She's been so happy. It's scary to know that anxiety can lay you low, even when you take care of yourself, even when you know you have anxiety. It can sneak up on you and leave you paralyzed before you even know what is happening. I don't think I've fully accepted that yet. I sort of have my fingers crossed that my current medication will last for a long time, that I'll continue to use and develop productive coping strategies, and never be laid low again. But that is probably just a dream.

It's going to be ok, grandma. You've beaten back this beast before, and I know you can do it again.

Wednesday, August 20, 2008

If I Twittered

I'd say
  • swimmers are hot
  • so are beach volleyball ladies
  • hooray, school started Monday
  • boo, day off for tropical storm fay
  • hooray, they're back at school
  • I have a lot of pictures to post on the other blog but haven't been on the computer as much lately
  • why? Lots of books!
  • husband has initiated some decluttering sessions- hooray hooray!
  • marriage is hard
  • so is parenting

Friday, August 08, 2008

Belated Thanks and things to be grateful for

Thank you, all of you, for your kind and dear comments. I know that I have friends in California, Oregon, Texas, Massachusetts, Spain, Australia, and more. I am truly grateful to all of you. I am going to try not to be so hard on myself- funny, isn't it, that I'm pretty good at not judging other people.

In reading your comments I realized that I have a hard time reading nice things about myself! And that because it makes me a little uncomfortable, I have delayed thanking some of you. My mother was very particular about sending thank you notes, so not thanking people for the beautiful things they've said about me makes me feel even more uncomfortable!

Thank you Bipolarlawyercook for posting about my photo blog, and for these kind words as well. It's hard for me to even read that second post, because posting empathetic comments is really important to me, and I totally blush knowing that you think I succeed at it. Being understood is so important to me, and I work hard at letting others know I understand them. Thank you.

Kiandra gave me an award. Again- so hard to read her wonderful words that are talking about me! Thank you!

When I had the chance to introduce myself to Suna I didn't- I was too shy/introverted/in awe of her. At that time I didn't know that she too is introverted and fights some of the same battles with her mind that I do. Thank you Suna for saying I make your day.


On July 22nd, my sister had her second little boy. He's just gorgeous from photos and Skype, and we here in FL might burst before we get to meet him in October. And his big brother is doing a great job being gentle.

One day I got to work early and noticed some flowers I'd never seen before.

I decided I'd take some pictures when I left for the day.

When I went to take the pictures, the flowers were gone!

They were back the next morning. These smartie Florida plants close up shop in the scorching heat, only sharing themselves during the relatively cool early hours.

Thursday, August 07, 2008

Moooom, I Want To!

Maya wants a lot of things. She hasn't quite learned that we sometimes have to wait for the things we want.

On Tuesday she wanted to sew a skirt she'd gotten too tall for into a pocketbook. Even though I was not really excited about the idea of dragging out the machine, making space on the table, and sewing it, I was even less excited to endure a fit. So I got out the machine.

And? I had a good time. Easy peasy- no pattern, just wing it. Input from Maya on the pseudo-appliques on the front (she asked about embroidering something which would have taken me a few years probably and then said- hey! we can sew a shape on). So nice to sew, and so nice to be present with my kids.

Saturday, August 02, 2008

a local treasure

Florida Southern College
, in Lakeland, Florida, is home to the largest, one-site collection of Frank Lloyd Wright buildings in the world.

My mom, her husband, and I went to visit when they were here a few weeks ago.

Thursday, July 31, 2008

A Missed Opportunity and a Sad, Sad Heart

I said goodbye to someone today, someone I'd always hoped would become a good friend. She's been our amazing children's room librarian for the past few years. We'd talk and I'd find myself wishing I could ask her out for coffee or something. I'm just missing that friendship gene or something- I have no idea how to make that leap from acquaintance to friend.

I was a bit of a shrew this afternoon with the kids. I managed to cook some very yummy corn soup (a weight watchers recipe) before totally losing it and taking a xanax. I lay down to nurse my bruised heart; Erik came home. There were tears, a back rub and even a little bit of feeling better.

I feel sad that she won't be at the library when we visit. I'm sick that I never took the jump and invited her and her husband to dinner. I'm sad for friendships that I've had, but no longer have- like every close and meaningful friendship I ever had in college. Adding fuel to this nostalgic fire is a mix tape that a college friend made for me. Erik came across it tonight, and hearing it play I'm missing my friend Kurt, remembering the time we danced to Deee-Lite at Wigstock. I wonder what these old friends are up to, and because I can't help myself, wonder how lame my years since college would seem against the accomplishments I imagine they've filled their cv's with.

I really wanted to figure out this friends thing this summer. I wanted to have people over, couples I think my husband and I would both enjoy getting to know as more than "Maya and Sam's mom and dad." We have a few more weeks till school starts, and this weekend I am going to formulate a plan for at least one get together before then.

edited to add: there've been a few times this summer when I've read a blog post and just felt heartbroken. Usually when one blogger that I really admire and feel a kinship with mentions their friendship with another blogger that I really admire. I'm so jealous, wanting to be their friend so badly, wanting them to know how much their writing resonates with me. It's silly, and yet not silly. Where are my soul-sisters? Where's my tribe? And more often than not- what is wrong with me?

Wednesday, July 30, 2008

baby steps back to blogging

We are home from the big road trip. Overall we had a great time, along with a few challenging moments. I have a zillion pictures to share, and I have all kinds of things I want to write. I haven't gotten switched from thinking about posting to posting. I read this meme on Krista's blog the other night and realized I'd enjoy looking back and that it would get me writing here again. So...

20 Years ago: I was 18. I'd graduated from high school and attended orientation at NYU. People I met that week were my friends all through college...wish I could say that I was still in touch with them. I also spent my first summer working at Great Gull Island, an island research station that changed my life.

15 Years ago: I was 23 and had moved Panama City, FL with Erik. It was the beginnning of a long, hard adjustment to life in Florida. I worked at Lechter's, a kitchen store at the mall.

10 Years ago: I was 28. We lived in Altamonte Springs, near Orlando, and were hoping a baby would be in our future. I think I got pregnant the next month! I was out of retail and had been working for my Dad for under a year.

5 Years ago: I was 33. We lived in our present home in a rural part of Florida, Sam was 4 and Maya was 1.5. We took a long, wonderful summer trip in California, which included a breastfeeding and parenting conference.

3 Years ago: I was 35. My sister had just returned to the States after living in Uzbekistan for a few years. She was due with her first baby. Our summer road trip was to Washington, DC, and we stayed with a good friend (along with a bunch of mutual good friends!) in her beautiful Georgetown home. My sister was staying there too. It was a fun time! And, yep, I went to a conference while there.

1 Year ago: I was 37 and freaking the heck out. I spent a lot of the summer in bed, depressed and anxious. I took the lactation boards (and passed). I went to Chicago for a conference.

Yesterday: I took the kids to their respective camps, went to the store, went to work, went to a different store, picked the kids up, and went home to exercise. I did a Walk Away the Pounds dvd- I'm officially middle aged.

Today I: brought the kids to camp and came to work. I plan to exercise this afternoon (going for 3 days in a row) and to do a crafty project of some sort with the kids.

Tomorrow I Will: work. Do something fun and creative with the kids. Go to a Weight Watchers meeting. Exercise.

In the next 5 years: I will pass the GRE, be accepted to a masters of public health program, finish the program, and find a meaningful, fulfilling job in the field. I will have one teenager (eek!) and one tween. I will go on adventures with my husband.

Wednesday, July 09, 2008

Fell off My Bike

Do you remember that moment when you learned to ride your bicycle when you realized you were actually doing it? And as you reveled in the air going through your hair you faltered just for a second and promptly fell on your head?

That's where I've been the past two weeks. June was great. Filled with a lot of fun stuff, maybe a little too full. I was handling things, staying positive, taking one day at a time instead of worrying about my month full of busy-ness, parenting in a way that is meaningful and important to me, and most of all cheering my switch to Zoloft. And then boom, I fell.

We did not spend an entire weekend at home in June, and we won't spend a single July weekend at home either. I think one of my keys to sanity is to have downtime at home. May was so busy with end of the school year activities and appointments; I was proud that instead of panicking 'how will I do it all' I just told myself to look no further than the day at hand. And it was fabulous. I felt so capable, so calm.

June brought Maya's dance recital (a wonderful, but long, long day), a trip to NY, a family birthday party to attend in Gainesville, and then July 4th with my in-laws. The laundry was piled up. Dishes were in the sink even though we were not home. The children, and everyone else for that matter, got on my nerves incessantly. Way too much yelling at the kids and arguing with Erik. Lots of eating anything that wasn't nailed down. I dreaded making the July 4th trip, being away from home, having to be social and cordial with others. Even my husband wondered if my medicine stopped working. I must have had a strange, faraway look on my face, as he doesn't always know when I'm feeling badly. Everything was just becoming too much.

I indulged in several naps on July 4th, and slept a bunch despite the various events we attended. When I woke up on the 5th things didn't seem as awful as they had the whole week had. The rest of the weekend was nice, and when we got home I started in on the mountain of laundry. I'm still feeling more irritated by little things than I'd like to be, the house is messier than I'd like (yep, dishes still in sink. At least they're different dishes than before.), but for the most part I feel like I've climbed my way out of this hole. We're heading out on a roadtrip on Saturday. I'm feeling ok about the packing.

I'm reminding myself to return to basics. To remember hope. To enjoy the small things. To let go of perfection.

Wednesday, June 11, 2008

Mmmmm, cake

Back in April I bookmarked Heidi Kenney's campfire cake because I had a feeling Sam would love it for his birthday. And when he said he wanted to have a camping sleepover party it was the only choice.

Oh my gosh, did I have fun making this cake. The center filling is dulce de leche, made by boiling an unopened can of sweetened condensed milk for three hours. There are no words- heavenly! Sam and I picked the chocolate cake recipe from one of my cookbooks; it was a not-quite flourless cake (only 1/4 c) and was just chocolaty and delicious. The fudge style frosting was also delicious.

Damn. Wish I had a slice now.

Tuesday, June 10, 2008

The Girl Effect

I so want to believe that this is true- that the men would respect the female business owners who brought fresh water to their villages, and that these men would invite these women to the village councils. But somehow I'm completely cynical; I think the misogyny in our world is too profound to overcome.

In my women's studies classes I would puzzle over the various theories that sought to explain centuries of inequality . None of them ever made sense to me. In the make-believe world in my head, men are awed by women's reproductive powers. They honor women and their life-giving bodies, they honor the at-home work of raising children- the citizens of the future!

I want to be wrong. I want the world to be transformed. I do believe that when girls go to school, their lives and the lives of their families can be transformed. But I think that those with the power cling to it too desperately to ever have the chance to see that the more good there is in the world, the more good there is for everyone.

Sunday, June 08, 2008

Turn Back the Clock? No

My laptop is unwell- poor thing can't charge because the jack is wiggly. I've known this for a while and managed, but I think we're at the point of no return. I need to get it in for service.

In the meantime, thankfully, I have an older laptop from my Dad. When I turned it on so that Sam could play with a new program, there was a message about the time/date setting. I think the battery on this thing doesn't stay charged, or something. In any case, the date was set as January 1, 2000.

I turned that over in my mind a bit later, and realized, no, I wouldn't turn back time. Wouldn't change a thing. Have there been moments when I wished for a do-over? Oh yes. Of course. All in all though, I think it's been a good journey, and the now is good too. So I wouldn't do it over, and I'm happy to be in 2008 and not back in 2000.

Friday, June 06, 2008

Nine Years

Happy Birthday my sweet boy. It's nine years since I met you, nine years that you've been teaching me. Can't wait to see where else you and I will go on this path of motherhood/son-hood.

Tuesday, June 03, 2008

My Heart is Full

Yesterday was the last day of school, and I spent a wonderful morning there. The school holds an awards program for 3rd, 4th, and 5th grades. Although I don't have a 5th grader, I had tears in my eyes as the principal said goodbye to them.

It was such a wonderful morning. My heart was full to bursting all day. Yes, I am proud of Sam for his accomplishments and the recognition he got from his teachers. More than that though, I am just full of love for our school, our teachers, and the wonderful, warm community that makes up our school. It was fabulous hearing about the successes the 5th graders had this year--one won a statewide essay contest, another won a statewide music competition, one young person has had straight A's since Kindergarten. I was so proud of them, their families, and their teachers.

After the awards assembly Sam's teacher invited parents back of to the classroom where he handed out class awards and spoke a few heartfelt words about each child. He is such a wonderful man, and it was great hearing him talk about each child and give them a hug. All of the children at our school hope that they will have him for third grade. I believe it is because they know that he genuinely enjoys and respects children. He loves his job, he's enthusiastic about teaching, and he helps his students be enthusiastic about reading. He got choked up when he was talking about Sam, and more than ever I wished that Sam could somehow stay in his class for another year. I know that Sam will be in a new classroom come August, and that there will be more adventures, learning, and love no matter who his teacher is.

In the afternoon I went to Maya's class luau. The kids were adorable, and the boys especially had a great time dancing. My sweet girl is so proud to be moving on to first grade. She's really grown a lot, and learned so very much. Tonight she came to me quietly crying; she was crying for her teacher, she misses her already. She sat on my lap and typed out an email to her.

It's been a fantastic school year. We're going to do a lot of fun stuff this summer, and then we'll be back at school ready for new experiences, challenges, and learning opportunities.

Friday, May 30, 2008

Ehh, so it ain't love Thursday anymore

How 'bout Love Friday?

We went to the beach on Monday and had a beautiful day.

This is what I see when I close my eyes and take deep breaths. I can feel the sun on my skin, the sand at my toes, and tension melts away.

Thursday, May 29, 2008

RIP Air Conditioner 1991-2008

You served us well, air conditioner. I knew when I walked in the house yesterday afternoon that it was serious. Last night was blessedly cool for Florida in May, and I hope that tonight we can look forward to more of the same.

We'll be replacing you with someone else tomorrow- someone new, more efficient, maybe even quieter. We won't forget the cool times we've had together, although I do think we'll enjoy your replacement even more.

Erik and I will be married 14 years tomorrow- isn't the traditional gift a new air conditioner?

Saturday, May 24, 2008

Pitter Patter

What's making my heart swoon right now?


I have loved the Oxford English Dictionary since I first laid eyes upon it in college. I was recently telling someone about the OED, someone who'd never heard of it (gasp!) and I got giddy talking about the word origins, the long list of definitions, and the examples of each usage from literature.

Today's mail brought a bookseller's catalog, and on the first inside page this condensed version of the OED. Honestly, my heart skipped a beat. It is being offered at a great price, albeit a price generally outside of my book buying budget. My birthday is long past.

I don't really need this, but, oh, my heart.

Tuesday, May 13, 2008

Through Maya's Eyes

We spent Mother's Day at Epcot. Maya carried my Rebel most of the day. She took a lot of flower shots (just like mom!), but these two are my favorite's. Erik and I don't often make it into a picture together. The closeup of my bag was her idea, and I just love it.

Thursday, May 08, 2008

Accentuate the Positive

This morning we were all a bit rough around the edges. Sam hasn't been to school since Friday; apparently he forgot the morning routine. Finally they were deposited at school- after having returned home for the forgotten guitar, and I was on my way to weight watchers.

As I settle in for the meeting and some much needed encouragement on the weight loss front, my phone rings. It is Erik, who simply said "I just had to check on our most important team member." Whoosh! All that morning roughness gone! Weight gain blues gone! I think this one call, these words, will be cherished even more than any gift the family might give me on Sunday.

Love Thursday

I love this picture of Maya. She's always willing to mug for the camera, and I have to ask her to cut the canned poses and just be herself. Yep, she's being herself here--oh that attitude! That sass!


I have a need for order. When it becomes obvious that the disorder around me is overwhelming, I retreat, bury my head in the sand.

The backyard is full of disorder. I stay inside, or in the front yard. Despite not enjoying gardening in Florida (nor anywhere, truthfully), I am so bothered by the chaos out there that even a short photography stroll in the backyard leaves me wanting to roll up in a ball, cursing our inability to create anything nice.

The bedroom (kitchen, living room, Maya's room) is a mess, I flee to the computer.

I'm not living up to my academic standards in freshman chemistry, circa 1988. I stop attending class.

Maya has called me on my escape mechanism a few times in the last few days. "Mom! This is more important!" Ouch. She's 6. Who's being the grown up? Yes, Maya. Yes, Sam. Yes, Erik. You are more important than the computer. I got an email the other day that asked--what is keeping you from the life you want? Ouch.

I need the connections I make online. I need the wisdom. Yet I need to be able to step away and take action here at home. Whether I like it or not, I'm going to have to be the captain of this ship if I ever hope to have even the smallest showing of order around here. Erik doesn't see the piles, the disorder, and chaos. When I'm overwhelmed, it feels like they're swallowing me whole.

I'm scared. What if I do spend less time online, and more time making order out of chaos, and I fail? What if I can't attain the perfection or level of order my brain keeps insisting it needs? What if I become the family leader I want to be, and no one follows?

I've been in the house for the past three days on sick child duty. I had to get out of the house this evening after dinner (oh the incessant talking! the talking all at once, at me, as if I'm the only one who can help them), so I grabbed my camera and walked around the house.

The whole backyard practically gives me hives (how the trees have grown since they were scaled back courtesy Hurricane Charley), and one corner in particular makes me so upset. That's when I started trying to imagine myself out there, doing the work, with work gloves, a hat, and a big pair of clippers. Nope. Not me, not gonna happen. So, then, self, why oh why do you care if it is overgrown? If you're not willing to do something about it?

Because, my mind whines, becauuuuse. Because it should be nice. It should be trim. And the floodgates open up: I should have a clean house. I should be studying for the GRE, I should be applying to graduate school. I should be a better mother, wife, and employee. I should try harder to make friends. I should meditate. I should exercise. I shouldn't overeat. Ad nauseaum, ad infinitum.

Then it is time for me to leave the backyard before some tree spirit snatches me away. I return to the civilized front yard, discovered by my children, outside to play in the last few moments before bed.

This too shall pass. I have taken some baby steps in the house to lessen the chaos enough for me not to feel that it is closing in on all sides. I'm taking a great Pema Chodron e-course. I'm learning from Karen Maezen Miller that the crooked path is ok (just before I finally bought her book I won an autographed copy from her!). And look, even tonight, wandering outside feeling hopeless, there was this:
These gulfs of incomprehension bring the opportunity for spiritual growth and self-acceptance. Momma Zen, p 8, Karen Maezen Miller

Thursday, May 01, 2008

Love Thursday

My sweeties were racing in the neighbor's driveway, and I was shooting away in the lovely light. When I got them on the computer I caught this little glimpse Maya was giving Sam. Yes, they fight, they're siblings. However their love for each other knows no bounds, and it has been a blessing to watch this love bloom.

Visit Shutter Sisters for more Love Thursday.

Tuesday, April 29, 2008


This is how I drove out of the driveway yesterday. Fortunately I remembered before I turned the corner. I wasn't sure if I got the exposure right (eh), or if it were well framed (nope) but then got shy when my neighbor drove by. I grabbed my water and hopped into the car.

We had a big oops this weekend. On Friday we spent the afternoon at Florida's oldest theme park, Cypress Gardens, with Maya's friend, her mom, and her little sister. Right before we walked to the car Maya banged her head climbing onto an old firetruck and got a cut above her eyebrow. Omg the blood. My friend went to get help, I hugged Maya, while the other three kids kept saying that they were scared and shaking. I kept saying it's going to be ok. Finally I remembered I had a new pack of tissues in my bag and I was able to apply pressure and also to clean up Maya somewhat. My friend came back and said the park paramedic was coming. When she arrived, she cleaned it, put on a butterfly bandage, and then a regular one on top. She said that it didn't need stitches.

It is healing pretty well, although I'll probably torture myself a while longer, wondering if we should have gone to the ER. Her worries: is it a bruise? I don't want a bruise! Can you see my bones? Will I need to wear a band aid to school?

Wednesday, April 23, 2008

Love Thursday

We've had a hectic few weeks since our return from spring break. Sickness, root canal, family birthday parties, Hebrew school. There's barely been time to take care of laundry, or piles of mail and the kids' artwork. All of this rushing about leaves me feeling like I'm spinning in circles.

Fortunately I have these delightful creatures to slow me down and enjoy the moments.

Yes, my child is swinging on a dead palm frond. Gotta love it.

This weekend is going to be all about getting off of this hamster wheel I've jumped on.

Tuesday, April 22, 2008

Labor Pains vs Toothache: No Contest

When we went to Bratislava I had a cold. I thought that it might even be a sinus infection, because my teeth were sensitive and I had some discomfort in my cheek area. When we returned I was no longer using every tissue in sight, but still had sensitive teeth. After our first week at home I thought the sensitivity was almost gone.

On Friday night at 8 pm the real pain began. Even the internet couldn't distract me, and I went to lie down. On Monday I saw a doctor about my sinus problem. He prescribed by penicillin, 3 advil 3x's daily for the pain, and a nasal decongestant to make sure everything was clear up there. I was to return if I was still in pain at the end of the antibiotic. On Tuesday at work the pain increased. After emailing with my aunt I made an appointment with my dentist.

Oooh boy. I'm so glad I made that appointment for Wednesday, because the pain only continued to increase. I would rate my two unmedicated childbirth experiences as a pain level of 4; over the weekend I would have said I was at 8, and by Wednesday it was a 9. (my gallbladder attacks when my son was 4 weeks old were also an 8-9) The pain was really excruciating- it radiated from my cheek up towards my forehead and behind my eye, and down into my jaw. At this point the tooth was throbbing as well, and any thoughts that I had a sinus infection were vaporized.

A short xray and exam later and we had a diagnosis: root canal needed.He also gave me a prescription for vicodin, because the advil treatment was not even close to offering relief. My dentist referred me to an endodontist, who fortunately had an opening the following morning.

I am not sure that I've ever been so happy to be at a dentist's office- I knew that in a little bit the pain would be gone. While I'd avoided chewing on the left side of my mouth for almost three weeks, on the morning of the root canal I could hardly even chew on the right side without crying out in pain.

The novacaine brought sweet relief! Even when it wore off in the afternoon I was feeling great, and frankly just so, so relieved to not feel like my cheekbone was going to shatter into a zillion pieces anymore. I think the worst part of it was that, unlike contractions, there was no peak and then decrease in the discomfort. The pain was constant. You can't breath through this kind of pain, there's no muscle to practice relaxing and releasing. Another labor tool that was immensely helpful in labor provided no relief with my tooth- labor pain works towards a goal- your uterus contracts in order to help the baby get born. There is no point to a toothache, far as I can tell!

Tuesday, April 15, 2008

Our Temple's Orphan

At the end of WWII, somewhere in Czechoslovakia, almost 1600 orphans were found in a synagogue. About twenty years later the orphans were taken to London, and eventually made their way to twenty countries around the world.

The orphans I speak of were Torah scrolls which the the Nazis gathered as they marched across Czechoslovakia. In 1964 the scrolls were transported to the Westminster Synagogue in London. The scrolls were examined individually, and repairs were made as necessary, in order to make them once again kosher for ritual use. Scrolls were sent out into the world to synagogues on permanent loan, usually to congregations who could not afford to have their own Torah written (a Torah scroll, written by a single scribe according to exacting rules, can cost many thousands of dollars).

My temple is privileged to have one of these orphaned Torahs. Bratislava is about three hours by car to the town that our Torah came from. We rented a car and took a day trip to Golcuv Jenicov to see the synagogue.

The outside of the building has been restored by the Prague Jewish Museum. The building is used as additional storage for the museum, and it is not open to the public.

There aren't any Jews left in Golcuv Jenikov, and there aren't many remaining in the Czech or Slovak Republics. Most of them went to their deaths in the camps, and others emigrated to Israel or other countries, especially after the Communists came to power.

Today the majority of these orphans have found new loving families. Some remain in London, unable to be repaired enough to be used. Every Torah is special, but I get a chill every time our Torah leaves the ark, imagining the people who worshiped with it back in Golcuv Jenikov.